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The flu, and unwanted gift of the season
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Unwanted Gift: Many Getting the Flu In Time For Christmas

IMPERIAL VALLEY — Many are looking forward to giving and receiving gifts for the holidays, but an often-unintended gift shared amongst loved ones and associates during the holiday season is the flu.

Local hospitals take decisive action to prevent the spread of the annually recurring virus, officials said, and at these institutions the first step in the line of defense against the flu is the flu shot.

 “All admitted patients and those seen at the clinics are offered an influenza vaccine prior to discharge,” said Graciela Magallanes, a nurse at El Centro Regional Medical Center.

ECRMC requires all hospital employees to receive an influenza vaccine and requires those unable to receive it, or who decline it, to wear a surgical mask to help decrease the transmission of influenza. 

“ECRMC had a 90 percent employee influenza vaccination rate during the 2018-2019 influenza season and monitors employee influenza vaccination compliance throughout the year,” Magallanes said.

 Besides vaccinations, the hospital takes other precautionary steps to assist in the prevention of influenza, including limiting contact with sick individuals, encouraging everyone in the facility to cover coughs and sneezes, use of frequent hand hygiene and enforcing visitor restrictions.

ECRMC provides flu prevention stations at all facility entrances. Patients with flu- like symptoms are required to wear a mask. Employees receive annual training pertaining to the influenza vaccine, prevention, diagnosis, transmission and impact of influenza. Employees at ECRMC with flu like symptoms are excluded from work and encouraged to seek prompt treatment.

As a reminder of how serious the flu is, there has been one fatality tied to it reported in Imperial County this flu season.

 “A toddler was positive for influenza B and passed away this month,” said Maria Peinado of the Imperial County Public Health Department. “It is unknown if the child had been vaccinated. Last flu season, five flu-related deaths were reported in Imperial County.”    

The flu continues to circulate at higher levels in Imperial County and flu activity is widespread statewide, Peinado said. In California, 24 influenza-related deaths were reported this year and the Health Department recommends everyone receive the flu shot to avoid contracting the virus, she added.

Peinado shared a few quick tips to prevent the illness from spreading:

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or disposable tissue.
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home while sick and limit contact with others.

For more information regarding the flu vaccine or treatment of the flu contact your primary physician or the Health Department.

This story is featured in the Dec 19, 2019 e-Edition.

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